Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Earlier today, the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York announced the lineup for its Summer Concert Series 2009. The Jones Beach Theater is a long time favorite venue of local music fans n the New York Metropolitan Area. The amphitheater, with its stage situated between concertgoers and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, provides an intimate, almost magical atmosphere for enjoying performances by favorite musical artists.
Each year, New York music fans eagerly await the upcoming summer schedule. The theater, currently sponsored by event promoter LiveNation, is offering its usual array of musical artists with appeal from all reaches of the musical spectrum. Here's the low down:
Among some of the more notable acts of the season include some notable reunion/comeback shows. The long-awaited Phish reunion opens the season with three dates in June (2, 4, 5), followed by Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction (on a double bill, June 7)), New Kids on the Block (June 12), No Doubt (June 27), Creed (August 15), and Loggins and Messina (August 23).
Rock fans will enjoy Aerosmith, together with ZZTop (June 26), Def Leopard with Poison (July 8), Judas Priest with Whitesnake (July 12), and Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd (August 2). Seventies super-groups the Doobie Brothers (with Bad Company, June 28), Crosby, Stills and Nash (August 8), and the Allman Brothers Band (August 27) all make summer stops at the venue.
Modern rock/pop favorites the Fray (June 25), Nickelback (June 15), as well as the Dave Matthews Band (July 21, 22) all make appearances.
Tropical sensation Jimmy Buffet attracts his "Parrotheads" to his annual Jones Beach stop on August 26.
Country Music sensation Kenny Chesney (June 24), reggae show "Rock the Bells" (July 19), WKTU's annual "Beatstock" (August 16), featuring acts from the dance music world, and the Harvest Crusade Musical Outreach Christian music series round out the lineup thus far. New shows are often added as the season gets closer, so stay tuned.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Straight out of the very large shadow of her big brother, Janet Jackson emerged in the mid 1980's to achieve her own status as a bona fide superstar. Over the last two-plus decades, Miss Jackson has amassed an incredible array of music, adding her own voice to the thread of American culture.
Though her success has waned in recent years, (ostensibly ever since the backlash against her "Wardrobe Malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl), Janet Jackson has continued to entertain us with her keen aptitude for making great music. It's difficult to pare her catalog down to a top ten, but the following is my personal best of Miss Jackson. I've included the popular and the not so popular, the ballad and the up tempo, the happy and the hopeful. Surely some will hearken memories in your own minds.
10- Feedback - Janet's most recent hit from 2008's Discipline album reached #19 on Billboard's Hot 100 and #1 on its Hot Dance Tracks. The song is a throwback to past Jackson songs, with up tempo beats and great vocals to match.
9- Son of a Gun - As with many Janet Jackson songs, this one reflects her love for the music she grew up listening to. Oftentimes, she's employed the use of samples, lyrics, and even guest vocals by the original artist to make her homage instantly familiar to the listener. "Son of a Gun", coupled with its prelude "Clouds" is loosely based on Carly Simon's hit "You're So Vain". Ms. Simon provides original guest vocals on both tracks, and its bass-driven beat is an irresistible sensation Unfortunately, the use of vulgar language in the chorus didn't convert well to a radio-friendly version (which featured the likes of Missy Elliot, as well) prevented the tune from becoming a successful hit. It's a great song anyway!
8- Again - This ballad, off the 1993 album, "Janet", is a beautiful love song that's easy on the ears. The tune was featured on the soundtrack to "Poetic Justice" (in which Jackson starred) and garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
7- (tie) When I Think of You / Escapade - (Yes I know this is a top ten list, but these two songs, to me, are similar in nature and I just couldn't decide between them.)
When I Think of You - This song is classic Janet Jackson from a younger, more innocent period in her life and career. The fun hit was the third release off of her 1986 "Control" album and was her first #1 single.
Escapade - Much like the previous song, "Escapade" is another fun ditty that's simply irresistible. The carnival-like music of the song and its catchy chorus make this one a fan favorite.
6- Black Cat - This one showcases the rocker side of Miss Janet, with memorable guitar riffs and blazing vocals. Off the "Rhythm Nation" LP, this fan favorite reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and is always enthusiastically received in all of her shows.
5- Got Til It's Gone - Though not a major smash by Janet's standards, this song is an innovative veneration of Joni Mitchell's hit "Big Yellow Taxi". This is yet another example of Janet's reverence for the wide variety of music she listened to growing up and its arrangements are created to update the song to accurately reflect the sounds of the day. Featuring a guest appearance by rapper Q-Tip and a groove reminiscent of "That's the Way (Love Goes)", this one's a Jackson classic in my eyes.
4- Nasty - Who can forget this naughty tune from Janet's 1986 breakout CD "Control"? The song typified the popular sounds coming out of Minneapolis at the time and begat the catchphrase, "No, my first name ain't baby...It's Janet! Miss Jackson if you're nasty."
3- Together Again - Although the music to this #1 hit, from 1997's "Velvet Rope" CD, is upbeat and danceable, the reasoning behind its composition is not as pleasant. The song represents the dream of a day when Janet will be reunited with the many loved ones in her circle lost to the specter of AIDs. "Together Again" hearkens within all of us a relevant yearning to be together once again with people we've lost.
2- That's the Way (Love Goes) -
"Like a moth to a flame, burned by the fire...
My love is blind, can't you see my desire."
So begins the sultry groove that garnered Janet a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1994. The tune is a feel-good song from beginning to end and surely belongs towards the top of any Janet Jackson fan's list.
1-Love Will Never Do (Without You) - This irresistible charmer from 1991 was an unprecedented fifth Top Five single off of the previous year's "Rhythm Nation" album. Coupled with the typical Minneapolis sounds made popular by Prince, (taken to further heights by Prince alum and the album's producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis), and Janet's nasally vocals, was a memorable black and white video (produced by Herb Ritts) and featuring Antonio Sabato Jr. and Djimon Hounsou, two popular male models of the time. The video was stylistically produced and is as memorable as the song.
Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Jackson
A Day of Silence
Every year, on the "Day of Silence", I wear the rainbow ribbon. This year, however, I'm feeling more and more like a hypocrite lately, living a lie when it comes to young people to whom I perceive myself as a role model.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Classic 90's Music Reviews: Madonna's Erotica
The uproar against the latest in Madonna's ever-pressing efforts to spark controversy for attention overshadowed what was in reality a great collection of tracks showcasing her latest metamorphosis in musical style.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I love comedies. Laughter gives me a temporary and pleasurable escape from the rigors of life. One of my favorite movies of all time is also one of the funniest. "The Birdcage", a 1996, Mike Nichols directed adaptation of the French classic "Le Cage Au Follies" and starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams is a uproarious tale of what happens when you try to be something you're not.
Val Goldman (Dan Futterman), the son of Armand Goldman (Williams) and his lover Albert (Lane), has a surprise for his not-so-traditional parents on a visit home from college. He's fallen in love and is getting married to the daughter (Calista Flockhart) of a notoriously conservative Senator from Ohio (Gene Hackman). Val convinces Armand that he's got to 'play it straight' for the impending meeting between the future in-laws. The only problem is what to do with Albert.
As his alter-ego, Starina, Albert is the ultimate diva and star of the show at Armand's Miami nightclub, the Birdcage. Upstairs from the cabaret, Albert plays the resident wife, mother, and drama queen. As expected, Albert doesn't take too kindly to the suggestion of leaving and what follows is a series of side-splitting scenes as the Goldmans prepare for the arrival of the Keeleys (Hackman and Dianne Wiest).
Here are some highlights:
-One of the funniest scenes of the movie is when Armand tries to teach Albert how to 'act' straight. Albert's hysteria at not being able to hold his pinky down while drinking coffee and trying to walk like John Wayne make for terrific hilarity.
-Hank Azaria gives an added comic presence as Agador Spartacus, Armand and Albert's faithful houseboy. With a thick Spanish accent and an inability to wear shoes without tripping all over the place, Agador provides random laughs throughout the film.
-When the Keeleys finally arrive for dinner, Albert comes out as Val's mom, much to the horror of Val, Armand, and Agador. The Senator becomes smitten with Mrs. Goldman, much to the dismay of his wife. The entire dinner scene is a series of hilarious moments, like this one:
o"What interesting china! Why, it looks like young men playing leapfrog" (Mrs. Keeley, commenting on the dinner dishes at the Goldman house).
- One of the most sidesplitting moments comes at the end of the film. Once the Goldman's secret's been let out and the families are about to go their separate ways, the Keeleys are blocked from leaving by a media circus parked outside the Birdcage. The press had followed the Senator all the way from Ohio looking for a scoop on a political scandal he's embroiled in. With no apparent escape, Albert has an idea that closes out the movie leaving the viewers in stitches. The two clans make their escape through the Birdcage's finale number ("We Are Family"), unassumingly meandering through the crowd and out of the club in full stage attire. Let's just say that Gene Hackman makes for one ugly drag queen!
The Birdcage is a great, funny movie. If you love to laugh, this is one film that's sure to tickle your funny bone. Here are a few places to pick up The Birdcage:
Buy Cheap DVD, http://www.buycheapdvd.com/index.cfm/fa/items.main/parentcat/20468/subcatid/0/id/352166
Deep Discount, http://www.deepdiscount.com/viewproduct.htm?productId=5754646&extid=df00029&src1=voltage&gclid=CLbI7rz70JkCFUpM5QoddDYLdQ&ad=656267347
Movie Gold Mine, http://www.moviegoldmine.com/product_info.php/products_id/77374
Museum of Broadcast Communications, http://www.tvondvdshop.com/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=193&upc=02761660339&affnr=-2310